What? August is over already? Hard to believe, but I’m more than a little excited to make my way into sweater weather reading! This September I anticipate awesome new releases, as well as my annual fall book kick. Let’s get those spines a cracking! Until then though, let me reflect on the so-so reading month that was August. Though books finished were few and far between, two of those read were absolutely fabulous. I could gush and gush about them all day, so that’s what this post if unofficially dedicated to! With that being said, let’s cut to the books!
1.The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock 4 stars
It takes work like Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock to remind me why I keep reading, even amongst plentiful 1 star selections. Because this book? It’s just so amazing. The Smell of Other People’s Houses includes every aspect of fiction I love; from a richly imagined historical setting, dynamic characters, and a great heart. Though Hitchcock’s debut is far from perfect (technical flaws abound), I can’t fault a storyteller that had me ‘feeling all the feels’ from page one. And, as I touched on earlier, it’s largely owed to the characters. For those not in the know, TSoOPH is split into four interconnected narratives. Among them is standout Ruth, who is truly what separates this book from ‘good’ to ‘OMG shut the front door’. I felt so much for her, in no small way owed to how deftly Hitchcock managed to transcend her arc across the page. Though I was immediately sympathetic to her plight, in a mere 250 pages (this book is infant sized, btw) I understood her character in a deeply emotional way. This book would be excellent for any aspiring writer to read, as Hitchcock’s talent with characterization is one I can’t describe in justice. Be it a main character, supporting character, or character that appeared only once- she made sure each interaction counted in a major way. All around amazing, must go on your TBR now!
For my full thoughts:The Smell of Other People’s Houses Review
2.The Walled City by Ryan Graudin 1 star
Sandwiched between my two fabulous reads this August, we have Ryan Graudin’s The Walled City. Informally given the title of; “Most disappointing read 2K16’. All of my insanely high expectations (keeping in mind Graudin’s Wolf By Wolf is a favorite of mine), were crushed within chapters of starting this hot mess. And to what does it owe the dishonor? Mainly the uber generic and uninspired plot. This complaint is pretty ironic, considering one of Wolf By Wolf’s big selling points for me was it’s uniqueness factor. However it’s not that The Walled City is a carbon copy of a million other sci-fi novels, because Graudin has a cool jumping off point. Instead, it was more of an issue of what she chose to do with this one-of-a-kind idea. Spoiler alert: water it down with pointless interactions and tepid storylines. I consistently found myself bored, and often struggled to keep the pages flipping. Super disenchanting, especially when you consider that this is a high stakes setting! A lawless world run by Chinese Mafia-esque gangsters, and all other manner of unsavory faces. But did I ever feel any of that intense pressure and grit? No, of course not. That’s why I’m here ranting. Fortunately, there is a silver lining to this sad, sad story. That being: this was Graudin’s debut. Meaning she became a better writer. Meaning there’s still hope for all her work to come. Meaning praise the bookish heavens, my fate in fiction is restored. Bottom line: definitely worth skipping for even die hard WBW fans.
3.The Lost & Found by Katrina Leno 4 stars
This finally leads me to the third book I read in August: Katrina Leno’s The Lost & Found. An absolutely adorable contemporary/magical realism mashup that has put the ever talented Leno on my radar. For which I am grateful, as this story would be an easy one to ignore. A sugary sweet synopsis elludes to romance for two teens, with little substance beyond the usual Kasie West fare. But there is so much more beyond that first impression! Leno tackles themes of isolation, loneliness, and our development as people. She deftly utilizes magical realism to further her message, without making it a forefront issue to be addressed (think, a much more soft core version of Bone Gap by Laura Ruby). I connected to her characters from page one, and loved how they all had deeply developed personalities/conflicts/growth. And as you’ve probably figured out by this point: good MC’s are the quickest key to my heart. Beyond that, the quirky dialogue earned an A+ from me; really helping the story stand out. There’s more than a few one-liners intermixed in the plot that will have you cracking up for minutes. The Lost & Found is a book that never takes itself too seriously, but demands to be heard nonetheless. All this makes it worth checking out, even if stories in the same vein haven’t worked for you before.
What did you read this August? Have you checked out any of the books I mentioned? Let me know in the comments!